Snapshots 84
The World Remembers Ray Bradbury

Here are 16 developments of interest to Ray Bradbury fans:

(1) Ray Bradbury reminisces about LASFS meetings in the Brown Room at Clifton’s Cafeteria in this YouTube video. Then Robert Clifton, owner and grandson of the founder, Clifford Clifton, guides viewers through the premises to the hallowed meeting room.

For those who are insatiably curious about this fanhistorical shrine, more old photos are posted on the Clifton’s Cafeteria website.

(2) See a video of Ray delivering his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” at a JPL symposium as Arthur C. Clarke, journalist Walter Sullivan, and scientists Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray listen in. The poem, written to commemorate Mariner 9 Mars Orbiter mission in 1971, begins:

Short man. Large dream. I send my rockets forth
between my ears,
Hoping an inch of Will is worth a pound of years.
Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal Mall:
We’ve reached Alpha Centauri!
We’re tall, O God, we’re tall!

(3) The last piece by Ray to be published while he was still with us – “Take Me Home” in The New Yorker.

(4) The L.A. Times covers Musical works inspired by Ray Bradbury.

(5) Here what Bill Nye the science guy said about Ray’s passing.

(6) Bruce Sterling shows he truly understood The Space Age Prophet in an op-ed for the New York Times.

His pedigree was impeccable, though. He came from “Lassfuss,” the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, a primeval caldron of sci-fi geek culture, founded in 1934. In my own caldron of Austin, our literary mentor, Chad Oliver, came to us from Lassfuss. He told how he and Bradbury and the “Twilight Zone” screenwriter Charles Beaumont would hunt for all-night burger joints, talking sci-fi until dawn.

It sounded so wondrous that we never understood that we were hearing a hard-times story. This was Depression-era California, and the real Bradbury was displaced from the Midwest to Hollywood, like a Steinbeck Okie, one of countless thousands who went West and inadvertently created a big chunk of postwar culture.

(7) Letters of Note posted Ray’s letter telling what it felt like to write “The Fireman” (forerunner to Fahrenheit 451) in the UCLA library:

I moved into the typing room along with a bunch of students and my bag of dimes, which totaled $9.80, which I spent and created the 25,000 word version of “The Fireman” in nine days. How could I have written so many words so quickly? It was because of the library. All of my friends, all of my loved ones, were on the shelves above and shouted, yelled and shrieked at me to be creative.

(8) It’s easy to understand why Margaret Atwood, in her epic tribute for the Guardian, empathized with this characteristic of Ray’s:

He ducked classification and genre corrals as much as he could: as far as he was concerned he was a tale-teller, a writer of fiction, and as far as he was concerned the tales and the fiction did not need to have labels.

(9) What Daniel J. Flynn thinks is right (what else?) in The American Conservative:

Ray Bradbury is a pretty good reason to visit the library. There, America’s most accessible short-story writer will let you time-share without charge an amazing vanilla-ice-cream-colored suit with six Mexican-Americans; he will waive the price of admission to a fall fair where the carnies try to steal the youth from youths; and he will take you for free from the junkyard to Mars on a spare-parts ramshackle rocket.

(10) In Reason, Charles C. Johnson went farther, annointing Bradbury a libertarian in “Ray Bradbury: Enemy of the State” –

Bradbury, who died this week at the age of 91, was a man of the right, a detail sadly airbrushed out of most obituaries this week. Like the best science fiction writers, he imagined worlds and realms outside the grasp of government, where the focus was always on the people that populated them, not on the gizmos in their pockets.

(11) In reality there’s somehing for everyone in Ray’s fiction because political consistency was not one of his gifts, as Binoy Kampmark shows in Ray Bradbury’s World, an essay for Counterpunch.

When he is ventriloquising about worlds past or elsewhere, Bradbury echoes a suspicion of the existing one: we are unfit for the technology we produce. This is itself an engineered repudiation on Bradbury’s part, having himself been a previous follower of the technology cult.  Novelists are entitled to veer.

(12) The Telegraph’s Bradbury obituary shows why one of his best-known word pictures has become woven into the language:

“A Sound of Thunder”, Bradbury’s best, and possibly best-known, short story, imagines a “Time Safari” which offers hunters the chance to shoot dinosaurs. On their return, they discover that one of them has stepped on a butterfly, that the world has changed irrevocably, and that a tyrant has become president. The description of the dead butterfly falling “to the floor, an exquisite thing, a small thing that could upset balances and knock down a line of small dominoes and then big dominoes and then gigantic dominoes, all down the years across Time” was credited with popularising the term “Butterfly Effect” in chaos theory, through a conflation with the meteorologist Ed Lorenz’s example of the potentially huge impact of the flapping of a seagull’s wings.

(13) CBS Sunday Morning aired Sunday Passage: Ray Bradbury (2:08) – “The late science fiction author Ray Bradbury wrote books that both predicted the future of technology and expanded the imagination of millions.”

(14) A copy of The Martian Chronicles made it to Mars even if its author didn’t:

The Planetary Society wanted to put a time capsule on the red planet for future human explorers and sought permission from Bradbury to include his futuristic novel on a mini-DVD containing Mars-themed literature, art and music, and the names of 250,000 Earthlings.

Soon after landing in 2008, Phoenix snapped a picture of its deck showing the disc next to an American flag. The spacecraft operated for five months before freezing to death.

(15) Dave Lowe drew “Goodbye Ray Bradbury” for Para Abnormal, The Comic.

(16) Bryant Arnold managed to inject a bit of humor into an otherwise mournful news story with his art for Sci-Fi Legend Ray Bradbury Dies (

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian and Martin Morse Wooster who sent me most of these links.]

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The World Remembers Ray Bradbury

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